I really like "High Waving Heather" by E. Bronte:

High waving heather 'neath stormy blasts bending,
Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars,
Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending,
Earth rising to heaven and heaven descending,
Man's spirit away from its drear dungeon sending,
Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.

All down the mountain sides wild forests lending
One mighty voice to the life-giving wind,
Rivers their banks in their jubilee rending,
Fast through the valleys a reckless course wending,
Wider and deeper their waters extending,
Leaving a desolate desert behind.

Shining and lowering and swelling and dying,
Changing forever from midnight to noon;
Roaring like thunder, like soft music sighing,
Shadows on shadows advancing and flying,
Lighning-bright flashes the deep gloom defying,
Coming as swiftly and fading as soon.

I like the rhythm of it, the rhyme, but I am a bit rusty since last time I "studied" poetry was in high school.
Is it iambic? What is the metre?


1 Answer 1


It's dactylic tetrameter. That means that there are four feet per line, and each foot is DUM dah dah.

HIGH waving HEATHer 'neath STORmy blasts BENDing,

The feet at the ends of the lines are shorter, a few lines have extra syllables at the beginning, and a few feet are irregular, but this doesn't change the basic meter.

  • 1
    Strictly speaking it's catalectic dactylic tetrameter. Most falling meter in English (trochaic or dactylic) is catalectic because feminine rhymes sound comical in English.
    – verbose
    Apr 19, 2019 at 5:00
  • 1
    @verbose: It's not necessarily true that feminine rhymes sound comical in English: consider If, by Kipling, and Reveille, by Housman, two very well-known and well-liked poems. Poems with badly done feminine rhymes sound comical (and there are many more of these than good ones).
    – Peter Shor
    Apr 23, 2019 at 12:40

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